Russia's Larissa Ilchenko lost her iron grip on open water swimming as Melissa Gorman (AUS) did to her what she had done to others on so many occasions: with a final push, the Brisbane swimmer lunged for the line and claimed the world 5km crown at Ostia near Rome by half a second, in 56:55.8.
Ilchenko, defending champion, was aiming for a sixth consecutive world title but Gorman had other plans from the start. She led for much of the 5km before the Russian picked up the pattern of most of her golden moments: she waited to challenge in a sprint finish over the last 100m. This time, the tactic misfired as Gorman dug deep.
The two women lunged for the touch pad in synch but Gorman's hand made contact while Ilchenko's missed, forcing her to take another half stroke.
"Larissa has been my idol and to race her and beat her in a sprint finish. I can't believe I actually got there," said Gorman. "I’m so excited. I really didn’t expect this result. It's an incredible feeling."
Three second back on 56:59.3, Poliana Okimoto claimed bronze for Brazil.
The men's race was won by Germany's Thomas Lurz after he played a waiting game in millpond conditions, the storms that caused events to be delayed having blown themselves out to be replaced by calm, sunny weather.
The race eventually came down to a 650m sprint, Lurz hanging on under pressure from Spyridon Gianniotis (GRE), victory going to the German by 0.3sec in 56:26.9, the bronze going to Chad Ho (RSA) in 56:41.9.